ITER Cryostat Base Positioned; Project 70% Prepared for First Plasma

On May 26, the soup-bowl-shaped base of the ITER cryostat was gradually lifted from its frame, carried across the Assembly Hall to the Tokamak Building and eventually lowered into the Tokamak assembly pit. In a delicate lifting operation, the cryostat base descended into the deep concrete cylinder of the tokamak pit—positioned within millimeter accuracy—into its support system.

The achievement marked the culmination of a ten-year effort to design, manufacture, deliver, assemble and weld one of the most crucial components of the ITER machine—the 30-meter-high, 30-meter-in-diameter ITER cryostat, of which the base is only one part. The cryostat will act as a thermos, insulating the magnetic system at cryogenic temperatures from the outside environment.

At the start of the operation, Bernard Bigot, ITER director-general, stressed the unique importance of the moment and expressed his confidence in the operation’s success. “The coming moments will stand out in the minds and memories of us all,” he said.

“What you will accomplish today, as a team, is something that has never been done before in history—and although you have rehearsed it many times, it will be a first-of-its-kind operation. We trust the engineering calculations, strategy and control. We trust the materials science. We trust the metrology. But my confidence today is because I trust you to work as one committed and highly professional team, convinced as we all are that failure is not an option.”

Procured by India and manufactured in segments by Larsen & Toubro at its Hazira, India, factory, the cryostat was assembled and welded on site under the supervision of the Indian Domestic Agency.